Hiking at Box Hill: A Day Trip From London
Way back in May (yes, I know, I need to keep on top of my blogging – but better late than never?) we had a full week of sunshine and temperatures were soaring into the mid-twenties – some Brits would call this a heat wave! It was fair to say that London’s cold, dark and dreary winter was finally over. Of course, I knew the sunny days wouldn’t last long so I wanted to take full advantage. I spent each evening after work in a beer garden or a park, drinking gin and tonics til the sun finally went down. Bliss.
When the blue skies (miraculously) continued into the weekend, I decided it was time for a little hiking. I persuaded a mate to join me, and we hopped on the train to Dorking. A £10 return ticket and a journey time of less than one hour makes this an ideal day trip.
A short walk from the station landed us at the edge of the Surrey Hills parkland, where we found the ‘Stepping Stones’ – a cute little river crossing.
From there we hiked mostly uphill (and went slightly off track once through big open fields… oops) before we reached Salomon’s Lookout. We were treated to stunning views of the countryside and rolling hills in the distance. A perfect spot for a picnic lunch.
Just couple of hundred metres up the road, there’s a national trust information centre / cafe / shop / toilets etc. They have maps and info for all kinds of different paths, ranging from 1.5km to 13 km. As it was already well into the afternoon by the time we got there, we chose a loop that would take us less than two hours; the Juniper Top hike (6.5km)
We started off walking on a nice flat track, getting occasional views between the trees. Eventually, this led us to a ‘Wild West’ bar – a little bit tacky, but I imagine popular with families and kids. From there, we followed a path through a forest for a while before it opened up into Juniper Top, a massive grassy space, giving a different countryside view to the one we had earlier at Salomon’s lookout. We had the whole space to ourselves, so sat down and enjoyed the fresh air for a bit.
The walk back down to the valley was somewhat steep which of course meant that uphill was coming again! But it was a constant, gentle uphill. So not too strenuous.
Eventually the path looped back towards the info centre, where we retraced our steps back to the Stepping Stones and onto a pub, also called the Stepping Stones. All good walks end at a pub, right? The staff at this pub were so so lovely. They were all out of gluten free bread, but sent someone off to the local supermarket to buy some, just so I could eat a steak sandwich. Ideal post-hiking meal. We sat back and watched the football with our delicious food.
Day well spent!
For more great hikes in the UK, check out the Peak District!